Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Character Study


♫ I'm the one who writes my own story,
I decide the person I'll be . . . ♫

Let's say your life (right now) is a book you're trying to sell to a publisher. How would you answer these questions?
  1. What's the book about? A middle-aged grandmother reinventing herself
  2. What's the setting? A home office in a down-town apartment building
  3. Describe the hero in three words. Wordy, interested, maternal
  4. What are her three best qualities? Diligent, genuine, flexible
  5. What are three character flaws? Envious, competitive, fearful
  6. What outward characteristics set her apart? Left handed, short hair, looks over glasses
  7. What goal does the hero want to reach right now? Write a historical mystery
  8. What is stopping her from getting it? Time, fear
  9. Does she have a mentor—someone helping her reach her goal? Husband
  10. List two subplots. Being a grandma, writing a blog
  11. What do you want people to take from your book? There is life in an empty nest.
  12. Where does your book fit in a bookstore? On the best-seller table
I filled out a long questionnaire like this for the publisher of Son of a Gun. It was like taking an English exam, with words like antagonist, conflict, theme, resolution—luckily English exams were my specialty, and I think I aced it. This week I'm outlining a new book, using some of the same questions to guide my thinking. My main challenge: make a character real using just words.

So, I've become a voyeur. Waiting in line at the pharmacy, eating at the hamburger joint, changing in the Nordstrom dressing room—I'm watching for details, listening in, wondering how to describe lengthy nose hairs and bulgy necks. Dumpy, crude, ditsy, shy—what if some writer wannabe is studying you? (It's something to consider when you're on the phone in the Nordstrom dressing room!)

Look over these questions and answer them (at least mentally.) I bet you're quite a character!


8 comments:

Diane said...

You are my hero. I love to think of "life after empty nest". Plus, I can't wait to read your books.

The Grandmother Here said...

Oma, you are so open. If I were doing something (trying to lose weight, or naming an unborn child) I would keep it all to myself. You are brave.

Misty said...

I absolutely love your answer to #12. I hope you answered the real publisher's exam the same way. :)

Christie said...

I second what Misty said. Your confidence is one of your best attributes, and it's absolutely contagious. Keep it up. One day some of it may rub off on me!

Michelle said...

You're so adorable. Period.

Grandma Shelley said...

Great post. I love your answers. Why is it that us empty nesters still find ourselves without enough hours in the day?

kenju said...

Well, I know one you answered truthfully - # 12!! LOL

Linsey said...

I have always suspected you were left-handed.